ABCs of Baking: I for Icing

There are about a dozen types of icing, but today we are going to talk about the main five.

First, the most popular: Buttercream. Buttercream icing is made with powdered sugar (also called confectioners sugar) and a fat - usually butter. This is a very spreadable, classic icing. One thing to note is that butter gets very soft at room temperature, so if you are looking to make decorative flowers or other elements out of icing, I highly recommend using vegetable shortening instead of butter to give it a little more stability.

A very simple and popular icing that is used mainly for cookies, donuts, and muffins is a Glaze. This second type of icing is made when you combine confectioners sugar with a liquid to make a thin consistency. In my Bakebook, I have recipes for a couple of different glazes where I use maple syrup and flavorings as the liquids, but even water can make for a delicious glaze.

Third: Whipped Cream icing. This is simply made by mixing together whipped cream and powdered sugar. A couple of things to note are that it’s easy to overmix this icing and turn it grainy, so make sure you stop mixing when peaks appear. Also, anything with this icing on it should be stored refrigerated.

The fourth type is one of my favorite things in the world: Ganache icing. Melted chocolate with heavy cream? Count me in! And, the shiny look of it is oh-so pretty. A little tip to keep that shiny look from getting dull is to add a couple tablespoons of corn syrup or glucose to your recipe.

The last kind of icing we’re going to talk about is Royal icing, which is the hard and crisp icing that is used to decorate cookies. It’s made with confectioners sugar, egg whites, and liquid. One thing to note is that if you are in a humid environment, it will take a long time to harden, so try to get some airflow going to help with that process.

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